Kate's Reviews > Purity

Purity by Jackson Pearce
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Apr 27, 12

bookshelves: 2012, young-adult, arc
Read in April, 2012

Purity is a well written novel, which I think is expected when you're dealing with someone as well respected as Jackson Pearce. I think my issue is that I was expecting more. The novel is technically excellent, but for me it was lacking heart. The issues in this novel are certainly of the kind that should by default stir your emotions up. And, confession, I'm emotional about books. I am a book crier. I cry in books all. the. time. So I was surprised that I didn't feel any kind of connection with the emotions that were driving this plot.

I think the main issue is that Shelby seems kind of cold. This stems from the "rule" system she lives by, based on the three requests her dying mother made of her. Everything gets analyzed. She's doing things to live her life to the fullest, but not because they necessarily mean something but because she has to. She carries a list around with her and adds to it and crosses things off as she goes about her day. That's what this book felt like. Things being crossed off a list. Even Shelby's friends felt a little formulaic to me, and though I could tell these were people who cared about her, I didn't connect with them beyond that.

And I wish the romantic entanglements had been a little better clarified/foreshadowed/something. While I wasn't shocked at how things went, that stems more from reading a million YA novels than the relationships I saw between the characters. In some instances, that works with the plot. But in the biggest instance, I found it didn't work for me at all.

Then there's the subject matter. I think that Jackson Pearce handled this as well as she possibly could have. It's clear that Shelby is acting like a normal teenage girl who has spent several years rationalizing all of her decisions, good and bad. And she certainly had her reasons for making some less than responsible choices. But Shelby also stood up for herself, and there was a limit to her bad decisions, if that makes any sense (and I kind of doubt that it does). Shelby is going to have sex for the first time with a guy she doesn't love, which is an idea I wasn't thrilled with, but she is at least responsible in the moment. Safe sex? Important. Etc. And I think the overall message of the book is a good one. That's where the technical proficiency comes in, because even though I felt sort of distanced from the characters, I appreciated the way the "lesson" of this book was paced out. You could see all these little steps Shelby had taken forming her realization at the book's end.

The reason I enjoyed this book, though, was Shelby's dad. I kind of loved how adorably clueless he was, and how honest he was with her at the end about kind of drowning under the expectations of being a good dad. THAT was the only relationship that tugged at me, and I think it was the most well done part of the story.

Overall, Purity is the kind of book that is good because it's talking about something that needs to be addressed among teens (And, let's be real, adults) and because it's written by someone who clearly puts a lot of thought and effort into her work. But I couldn't rate it higher because I just didn't connect with the characters.
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